My family is celebrating Christmas on New Year’s Eve this year. Therefore, my Christmas present panic button wasn’t activated until today. My father drew my name out of the hat and now I’m finally going to give him a little help in the gift department. Thanks, dad!
I’ve been bookmarking URLs and scribbling down a list of wishes each time I cook at home. I hope this list will help you to find a unique and perfect present for the plant-eater who loves all things food on your holiday list.
1) I am on a quest to make the perfect dairy-less cheese. I want to age it and cure it and mark it with a “V”. Cheesemaking.com has organic microbial vegetable rennet that makes my heart sing. They also have just about every press, mold and vat under the sun. And wax! Oh, the things that I could do with that wax.
2) I lived in Ohio for 22 years and I never, ever caught word about Lehman’s. Their online and offline stores have all sorts of general store-ish items. Including this German fermentation crock. Too bad my fifth-generation Ohioan brother didn’t get my name. That $25 special packaging fee is a bit steep. Maybe I’ll just have to swing by Kidron, OH next time I’m in town.
3) Speaking of towns in Ohio that even native Ohioans have ever been to: How about Northfield, OH? You’ll find Leener’s and this hot stovetop smoker there. This is a one-of-a-kind of place that has Bubble Gum Kits and gives Root Beer its own tab, right next to Bread and Vinegar.
This is why I need a smoker: I had the Cauliflower & Waffles at Dirt Candy a couple of weeks ago and now I want all of my vegetables smoked (and battered).
4) I spied a delightful poster at the Greenmarket last week. It had pencil drawings of all of the different varieties of winter squash that are grown and sold there. The name at the bottom said Claudia Pearson and a fair amount of Googling led me to her Etsy store. I adore everything here. Especially the Recipe Greeting Card Set and the Mushroom Tea Towel.
5) We aren’t allowed to have pets in our building. The next best thing are cultures that can turn ordinary plant matter into umami-packed goodness. GEM Cultures doesn’t do phone calls or online orders. But you can send a check in the snail mail with your order. And a few weeks later you’ll get a world of possibility in your mailbox. I would present my giftee with a check for $13 and a stamped envelope and let them choose which 5 kits they wanted from the Kit Culture Special on the Soy Cultures page.
6) Just in case you wanted to bundle a birthday and the next three Christmas’ in the deal, you could get them a Half Share in the Wild Gourmet Food CSA or a membership in the Wild Mushroom of the Month Club. I’ve talked to and fawned over the two foragers at the New Amsterdam Market for the past couple of years. This stuff is legit.
7) One might think that I would be scarred after having to carry a HUGE burnt orange lunch box through my middle school years. (Now listed as VINTAGE?!?) Well, I am. (Scarred, not vintage.) But my therapist thinks that having a stylish, shiny bento box would be very therapeutic. I’ve been fighting the urge to get one of these for years, but they still make me coo.
8. Then there’s my Amazon Wish List. If pressed, like if it were one of those phone booths filled with flying cash, I could add another 100 things to it in 60 seconds. But these are the top 11 selections. I’m just going to count this as one item on my Christmas list. For simplicity.
This is where the list moves from dreamy to pragmatic. From weekend kitchen projects to the simpler daily dinners. Here is my kitchen doodad wish list.
a) Canning funnel – Best for getting chunky soups into mason jars to give to old lady friends and new neighbors.
c) Tortilla press – The one that I had when I was little was made of cast iron with a red bit of paint on the tip of the handle. I can’t find any adult-sized presses with the same red flair, but I did find this one with the same text: “Hecho en Mexico Superior” or is that “Superior Hecho en Mexico”?
d) Bamboo Spider – The worst part about going to culinary school is that upon graduation you are given a little voice in the back of your head and when you even think about taking the easy (read: lazy and less perfect) way to the final product that voice kindly reminds you how much money you spent to know better. Enter the blanch and the shock of each vegetable separately so that they cook to their own personal level of perfection and other acts of excellence. Also, fishing your pasta out of its salted water with a spider is the way to make sure that you don’t dump all of your starchy pasta water down the drain. Then you can add a ladle-full to the sauce in the pan in which you finish your pasta. Just like you’re supposed to.
e) Silpat – You’ll save a bundle on parchment paper. And you’ll be able to gain a few extra seconds on your tuiles. You can also steam things between them…so you might need two.
f) Mini Donut Pan – Because my mom found one at Goodwill the same day that I was running around LA looking for one that I needed for a dinner party the following night and I still can’t get over her luck.
g) Vegetable Scrubber – I don’t know how I’ve managed to get by this long without one.
h) Spice Grinder – Having a coffee bean grinder that is only used for spices seems very luxurious. Just like nice, fresh spices.
i) Soda Shooter – That’s how this whole thing started. I love fizzy water. I can avoid dipping into the salt and vinegar potato chips if I have fizzy water. But I don’t feel good about drinking fizzy water out of a bottle. However, rumor has it that I’m going to get a fizzy water maker this Christmas…but there were a few dollars left over.
The question was: Is there anything else that I would like?
Yes, if pressed, I can think of a few things.